This Classic Baked Ziti Is a Total Crowd-Pleaser

baked ziti

Oh pasta … dress it up, dress it down, eat it fancy or eat it plain. It’s hard not to love this comforting carb no matter how it’s prepared. But it’s the classic pasta dishes, like this baked ziti, that we always find ourselves returning to again and again.

Classic Baked Ziti

Yield: approximately 8 servings


  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lb ziti, or similar pasta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • Instructions

    1. Do the Prep

    Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish and set aside.

    2. Make the Sauce

    In a large saucepan, crumble the sausage and cook over medium heat until cooked through and no pink remains. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the whole tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with a wooden spoon as you stir. Add the tomato sauce, paste, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. Cook the Pasta

    Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, salt water generously. Add pasta and boil for 10 to 11 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot.

    4. Assemble it All

    When the sauce is done cooking, remove from heat and stir in sausage, diced tomatoes, and fresh basil. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Add half of the sauce mixture to the cooked pasta and stir to thoroughly coat. Pour the ziti mixture into the prepared baking dish then top with remaining sauce and cover with the cheeses.

    5. Bake and Enjoy

    Bake at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and additional Pecorino Romano if desired.

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